Friday, September 19, 2014
Parenting Time Issues

This page contains information about Parenting Time questions often asked to the FOC:
     • Parenting Time Overview,
     • Parenting Time Enforcement     
     • Grandparent visitation
     • Alternate Dispute Resolution - Mediation,
     • Common Parenting Time Questions

Parenting Time Overview

A parenting time order determines the amount of time a child spends with the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. During the person's parenting time, that parent is responsible for all routine decisions affecting the child. 

The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 states:
    "It is in the best interest of the child to have frequent and constant contact with the non-custodial parent. If the parents agree on parenting time terms, the Court shall order those parenting time terms, unless the Court determines on the record that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child. A child shall have a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that the parenting time would jeopardize the child's physical, mental or emotional health." 

The Custody Act states that the Judge may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration and type of parenting time to be granted:
     a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
     b) Whether the child is a nursing child less than 6 months of age, or less than 1 year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.
     c) The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
     d) The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
     e) The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling to and from the parenting time.
     f) Whether the visiting parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
     g) Whether the visiting parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
     h) The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent of from a third person whom has legal custody. A custodial parent's temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent is intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.
     i) Any other relevant factors. 

Parenting Time Enforcement 

The FOC must begin enforcement proceedings when it receives a written complaint stating specific facts including dates, times and reasons given, about an alleged denial of parenting time, and when the FOC determines that there is reason to believe the court's order has been violated.    A parent has the right to ask the FOC to help them in preparing a written complaint about an alleged parenting time violation, or preparing a written response to allegations of parenting time violations.If the FOC has reason to believe that the parenting time order may have been violated, the office may do one or more of the following, at its discretion:

    a) Give the complainant a form packet to assist the person in seeking to have the Court hold the other party in    contempt of court and allow parenting time.
    b) Refer the parents to a mediator.

If neither of the above options is successful, the FOC will assist each parent in the petitioning process for an Order to Show Cause, or petitioning to change the existing parenting time order. This process can be accomplished either through the use of forms allowing a parent to act as their own attorney, or by hiring a private attorney to represent them in a dispute. Form: Motion and Order to Show Cause for Contempt (Custody/Parenting Time (found in downloadable forms on this website).

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation

The FOC is required by law to make mediation services available to parties when there is a dispute as to custody and/or parenting time. Domestic relations mediation provides an alternative to resolve custody and parenting time disputes. In Cass County, most custody and parenting time matters go through the mediation process before they are heard by the Court.   

Mediation is a process that parties can use to reach their own agreements without going to court. Generally, the child's best interests are better served when a mother and a father reach a mutually agreeable solution to the difficult problems of child custody and parenting time. By actively participating in the decision making process with the aid of a trained domestic relations expert, the parties are more inclined to live by and respect the agreements and avoid disputes. The mediator (the neutral person who helps the parties reach an agreement) cannot reveal to the court or anyone else the discussions the parties had during the mediation process. The person who mediates in the case cannot later investigate any disputes between the parties or enforce any court orders regarding the case. 

Grandparent Visitation

In DeRose v. Derose, 469 Mich 320, 333–334 (2003), the Michigan Supreme Court held that MCL 722.27b (grandparent visitation) was unconstitutional because the statute failed to require that the trial court give deference to a fit parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation. This statute incorporated the DeRose Court’s holding by requiring a trial court to give deference to a fit parent’s determination.  It is now presumed that a fit parent’s decision to deny grandparent visitation does not create a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health. A grandparent must overcome that presumption and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent’s decision to deny grandparent visitation creates a “substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.”   More information on Grandparent Visitation and Rights can be found at Grandparent's Rights.

Parenting Time Questions and Answers 

Q. My parenting time order states I have "reasonable visitation rights" or "reasonable parenting time." What does this mean?

A. This means the parents have the responsibility for setting up a mutually agreed upon schedule for parenting time, which is reasonable under the circumstances. If you cannot mutually agree to a visitation schedule, most Cass County orders provide that you should follow the Cass  County Parenting Time Guideline (found in downloadable forms on this website). 
In addition, you have the following options:
     a) Contact the other party to see if he or she will agree to mediation.
     b) Contact the FOC and request that they assist you in giving you a form to file asking the court to change your order to require a specific schedule.  Form: Motion Regarding Parenting Time (found in downloadable forms on this website).
     c) Contact an attorney to help you file the petition.

Q. I have a specific parenting time schedule that I need to change. What can I do?    

A. If you need a temporary change in your parenting time schedule, contact the other parent to discuss making other arrangements. If you need to make a permanent change,
   a) See if you and the other parent can agree to a change in parenting time. Form: Stipulation to Change Parenting Time (found in downloadable forms on this website).
   b) The FOC can provide mediation services, if both parties agree to participate.
   c) File a petition with the court for a change in the order on your own behalf. Form: Motion Regarding Parenting Time (found in downloadable forms on this website).
    d) Contact an attorney to help you file the petition.

Q. If the payer of child support is not making regular child support payments, do I have to allow to have parenting time?

A. Yes, parenting time and support are separate orders of the court, with separate enforcement procedures

Q. The other party is not following the parenting time order. What can I do?    

A. File a written complaint with the FOC office. If the FOC determines that either parent has violated the visitation order, they will assist with information to allow you to pursue enforcement.  

Note: The Cass County FOC has no funding for staff to handle parenting time enforcement. However, the Cass County FOC will provide you with a form to file a motion yourself to get this matter back into Court.  Form: Motion and Order to Show Cause for Contempt (Custody/Parenting Time) (found in downloadable forms on this website).

Q. The other parent is not sending or returning clothing or other personal items for our child. Is there anything the FOC can do? 

A. The FOC follows the written Order of the Court. Unless your court order states each parent’s responsibility for clothing, the FOC does not have any enforcement power.  

Q. Do I have to let my children go for parenting time if it appears that the other parent has been drinking or using drugs?

A. That is your decision. If you make the decision to deny parenting time in these circumstances, you may be required to explain to the court at a contempt hearing why you felt your decision was in the best interest of the children.  

Q. I am concerned about the other parent discussing changes in the court orders with the children. What can the FOC do?

A. Unless your court order forbids such discussions, the FOC has no enforcement power.  

Q. The FOC has refused to enforce my visitation order. What can I do?

A. The law requires the FOC to enforce parenting time orders. If they refuse to comply with the law you have a right to file a grievance regarding their procedures.  

Note: The Cass County FOC has no funding for staff to handle parenting time enforcement. However, the Cass County FOC will provide you with a form to file a motion yourself to get this matter back into Court.  Form: Motion and Order to Show Cause for Contempt (Custody/Parenting Time) (found in downloadable forms on this website).

Q. Does the FOC have a responsibility to investigate alleged abuse and/or neglect of a child?

A. No. Allegations of abuse or neglect should be reported to the Child Protective Services unit of the local DHS office. You can call them at 1-800-382-4277 or 269-445-0200.  

Q. I have a parenting time order, and my teenage child does not want to come for parenting time. What can I do?

A. The parents of the child are bound by the court orders. However, you may consider one or more of the following:
      a) You may want to see if you can work out a different arrangement with the child and the other parent.
      b) You can file a petition with the court requesting a change in your parenting time order. Form: Motion Regarding Parenting Time (found under downloadable forms on this website).
      c) You can request that the FOC assist you in enforcing your parenting time order. 

Note: The Cass County FOC has no funding for staff to handle parenting time enforcement. However, the Cass County FOC will provide you with a form to file a motion yourself to get this matter back into Court.  Form: Motion and Order to Show Cause for Contempt (Custody/Parenting Time) (found in downloadable forms on this website).

Q. My child fusses and cries when the other parent begins their parenting time (or when my parenting time comes to an end). Should I worry? What should I do?

A. Some fussing is normal, and has been nicknamed “the transition blues” when a child goes from one parent’s care to the others care. Remember that all children have some stress and growth pain, even if their parents are still together and getting along. Be careful not to jump to conclusions. This does not necessarily mean there are problems with the other parent.  Make transition time from one parent to the other as swift and smooth as possible (no long good-byes!.) Keep your mood upbeat and positive. If the behavior continues for more than three months, or consistently lasts more than a day after they have been with the other parent, consider professional evaluation and parenting advice.  

Q. The other parent makes plans for things with the kids (doctors appointments and social events) when they are supposed to be with me. Is there anything I can do?

A. Neither parent is permitted arrange for any appointment or activity for the minor children during the other parent's time with the children, without the express permission and agreement of the other parent. Each parent is ordered to facilitate each minor child's attendance and participation in school-related performances, and any other activities (e.g. organized sports, music or other lessons, church) in which the minor children are involved through the mutual agreement and permission of each parent. If the minor children were involved in these activities during the parties’ relationship with each other and the child wishes to continue these activities, each parent should try to accommodate the child's continued participation in the activity. 

Q. Can the police help me get my child(ren) for my parenting time?

A. Not usually. The only time police should be called is if the child(ren) or one of the parents is in eminent danger. Calling the police for parenting time disagreements is very traumatic for the child. Law enforcement officers cannot become involved because it is not a criminal matter, and they can only refer parents to the FOC. In all non-violent situations, parents should make every effort to settle the dispute through the FOC, and outside of the presence of the child. While you work out problems with the other parent, reduce your child’s exposure to your tension and conflict as much as possible. If violence is involved, though, the police should be notified immediately.  

Q. The other parent has not had exercised their parenting time in a very long time. Now they want to exercise it. What should I do?

A. Until the parenting time order is changed, you are required to follow the current order. If you want to change the current parenting time order, you will need to file a motion. Form: Motion Regarding Parenting Time (found in downloadable forms on this website).

Q. I do not know where the other parent will be taking our child(ren) for parenting time ( I do not have a phone number to reach the other parent in case of an emergency). Do I have to let my child(ren) go for parenting time?

A. The non custodial parent has an obligation to provide the custodial parent with a residential address of where the child will be staying for parenting time, and an emergency phone number. The non-custodial refusal to provide this information could create an acceptable reason for the custodial parent to refuse parenting time.  

Q. I have a problem with parenting time that I need an answer for before the other parent gets our child and I can’t talk with our caseworker before the child go with the other parent. Can I keep my child until I get an answer?

A. Unless your child is in serious danger to life or health, you must follow the Court order and provide the child to the other parent as currently ordered, until that Order is changed.  If you want to change the current parenting time order, you will need to file a motion. Form: Motion Regarding Parenting Time (found in downloadable forms on this website).

If your children have been neglected or abused in the other parent’s home, report your concerns to the Child Protective Services unit of the DHS in the County where the harm occurred. You can call them at 1-800-382-4277 or 269-445-0200.  

Q. I want to take the child on a trip, but it is the other parent’s weekend. What can I do?

A. Parents are encouraged to follow a regular parenting time schedule pursuant to the provisions of the order. If the regular schedule cannot be followed because of extraordinary circumstances, you should arrange an alternate parenting time schedule.  

It is best to get agreed changes in writing signed by both parents. If you cannot agree to a change in the schedule, then you are to abide by the current court order.  A Referee or Judge may order make-up-parenting time on a case depending upon the circumstances involved and the facts presented.



FOC Links


Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2013 Cass County Michigan
);